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Thread: broken rods, requesting encouragement!

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
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    Question broken rods, requesting encouragement!

    I am totally new to anything on line other than email so please bear with me! All of my life I've had back pain. I started seeing a chiropractor when I was 7 for my scoliosis. When I was 13 I had a spinal fussion with a Harrington rod, spending nearly 8 months in a body cast. When I was 20 my rod broke, but nothing was done about it because of no insurance. Four years ago I lost sensation in my right leg. My husband and I spent a year trying to battle the insurance and find a surgeon who would touch my back. Finally, we found Dr. Kumar who said that he could fix things. I went into the hospital expecting a short surgery and a short hospital stay. Just as I was heading off to surgery he came in and said that the last MRI that I had showed that only one of my fussions had healed, no wonder that I was in so much pain. The surgery lasted 9 hours. He took out the broken SS rod, put in 2 titanium rods, 4 plates and 14 screws. The bottom hook of the broken rod had slipped down and into the spinal column causing the lost sensation in the rt leg. Two years ago the surgeon said that the fussions were not healing again and that there appears to be decreased bone mass in the spinal column. The hardware has been uncomfortable at best since the surgery. About a month ago one of the new rods broke again. I am really discouraged by all of this. Is there anyone out there who has some good advice? The surgeon said that there is no need for pain medication. My family Dr. has given me Ultram for the pain, but some days it doesn't help much. Some of my family gives me a lot of grief for taking pain meds of any kind. By the way I am 43 now.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Northern California
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    Hi Ruthie...

    I think that you need to find another surgeon, and perhaps a pain specialist. If ultram isn't strong enough, there are a lot of other drugs that should help. I don't really know any revision specialists in Delaware. Is it possible for you to get to New York? Dr. Boachie has been mentioned by quite a few members of this forum as a top notch revisioon specialist. I'm not a medical professional, but I'm guessing that you need another fusion. Many doctors are using BMP (bone morphigenetic protein) to aid fusion in cases where it's been a problem.

    Best of luck in finding someone who can help you out.

    Regards,
    Linda

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
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    3
    Linda,
    Thanks for the speedy reply! I'm actually a hick from the sticks of Colorado. When Dr. Kumar did this last surgery, he used something that was supposed to aid in the healing of the fussions, but I don't know what it was. Right now I'm not very willing to do more surgery until I can get some answers as to why the fussions don't heal. When I've asked the surgeon about this he will not give me any kind of answer. Maybe there are no answers as to why some fussions don't heal, I don't know. I would like to know.
    It has been really good to read other people's stories and hear how they deal with things. Thanks!
    ruthie

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    Utah
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    1,010
    Ruthie,

    Would you be willing to travel? Dr. Michael LaGrone in Amarillo TX has a great reputation for revision surgeries and helping adult patients who have unique problems. His contact information can be found here:

    http://www.scoliosismd.com/
    Carmell
    mom to Kara, idiopathic scoliosis, Blake 19, GERD and Braydon 14, VACTERL, GERD, DGE, VEPTR #137, thoracic insufficiency, rib anomalies, congenital scoliosis, missing coccyx, fatty filum/TC, anal stenosis, horseshoe kidney, dbl ureter in left kidney, ureterocele, kidney reflux, neurogenic bladder, bilateral hip dysplasia, right leg/foot dyplasia, tibial torsion, clubfoot with 8 toes, pes cavus, single umblilical artery, etc. http://carmellb-ivil.tripod.com/myfamily/

  5. #5
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    Sep 2003
    Location
    NJ
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    1,291

    Ruthie

    We do know that cigarrette smoking interferes with fusion; my surgeon would not operate on anyone unless they were nicotine free for 6 months before the operation. Also my surgeon did not allow me to take any non-steroidal anti-inflammatory for pain relief for 4 months after fusion because it is thought to interfere with fusion. Some doctors believe none for a year. These pills include ibuprofen(Advil, Motrin); naproxen(Aleve) the 2 brands most frequently bought over the counter. There are others by prescription.

    Most medical literature regarding hardware problems point to bone/fusion failure. The purpose of hardware is to hold the spine safely in place while fusion is taking place. Later the hardware reinforces the fusion. Without hardware total bedrest for a year was mandatory for the fusion to heal along with a series of heavy casts. This was the case with my original surgery in 1956 at age 14.

    Karen
    Original scoliosis surgery 1956 T-4 to L-2 ~100 degree thoracic (triple)curves at age 14. NO hardware-lost correction.
    Anterior/posterior revision T-4 to Sacrum in 2002, age 60, by Dr. Boachie-Adjei @Hospital for Special Surgery, NY = 50% correction

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Posts
    3
    Karen,
    You've gotten me thinking. I am not a smoker, never have been, and I don't hang around where there are smokers either. That does make sense tho! I did grow up in an environment where we heated Dad's business with coal. I don't know if that would make a difference or not...
    After my first surgery I don't remember taking any kind of pain medication after I went home from the hospital. After this last surgery the Dr. sent me home with percoset and flexeral. We quickly discovered that I am allergic to percoset as well as codine. So I ended up taking 4 ibuprophen 4-6 times a day for the first couple of years. Its just been this past year that I switched Drs. and she put me on the ultram. I can take it up to 4 times a day but usually only take once or twice.
    I think that my greatest frustration is that I can only do a little bit to a time then I end up hurting so I have to stop and rest. Our kids are nearly grown (21, 19, 17, & 13) so it is getting easier to keep up with the house work, but I would love to take a stroll in the evening with my hubby and not end up in so much pain by the time that we are home that I am in tears. Ya know what I mean?
    thanks for listening!
    ruthie

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Posts
    913
    Ruthie, I can sympathize about not being able to do so much, I can barely tolerate 5 minute car runs because of all the bumps and my broken rod clicks and grinds I used to love taking car drives with hubby before...

    But oh well I will get surgery to take care of it but am also wondering what caused my fusion to break if it did, or be so weak since I don't smoke either and did a lot of resting after the surgery. I'm now also wondering if my brace post surgery was strong enough. I wore it for the first 6 months and then slowly on and off. But it was a black soft one, not a hard one at all, as the orthos all told me that was not necessary anymore, and that bracing post surgery had changed

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Northern California
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    6,802
    Sweetness...

    Sometimes, there is no apparent reason for a fusion not to take. If it's just one non-fusion, I don't think it's anything about which you need to worry. If they find that there are other non-fusions, then it can be time to worry. Luckily, many surgeons are now using BMP (bone morphogenetic protein) to enhance fusion, and seeing great results.

    Regards,
    Linda

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Posts
    913
    Thank you Linda,

    I will get surgery and have my ortho open all of my scar again so that he checks if my fusion and all of my hardware(screws, etc) are intact or need to be fixed. I also will talk about BMP when I see him in September. I was just worrying that they didn't put me in the right brace post surgery.

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